Laptop buying guide for college students: – Laptops are compact enough and versatile enough to run demanding applications. It is the best tool to do serious work or play, whether at home, on the road, or in a university classroom.
For those reasons, we are here with guidelines for buying the best college laptops, not to mention our ranking of the best laptops for most users.
While tablets and standalone smartphones are always popular, most people realize that everything from writing a research paper to playing videos and playing works best on a laptop.
There are a wide variety of sizes, features, and prices, making choosing the best laptop a challenge.
That is why you need to find out what your needs are.
16 Things Must Know Before Buying Laptop For College Students | Laptop Buying Guide For College Students
Research your college for specific requirements
The first and most important thing is to check with your school for specific system requirements. They may have hard and fast hardware recommendations. (Or not.)
Some colleges and universities want their students to be equipped with Windows-based laptops in order to reduce software incompatibility issues or to keep technical support concentrated on a single platform.
Others don’t care what operating system you use, whether it’s Windows, macOS, or even Linux if you’re a hard-core type.
Also note that most colleges offer price discounts for private providers and include extensive software packages, which can save you a good deal on the purchase of your laptop.
Therefore, you have to view the campus store as a top shopping destination, before reaching your local supermarket or favorite online vendor. There is no shortage of debate about whether Windows laptops are better than macOS laptops, or vice versa.
Regardless of your personal preference, it may be best to check with your college for specific system requirements. Some colleges and universities prefer to keep technical support concentrated on one platform, reducing software compatibility issues.
Although many laptops are similar, it is important to choose the one that works best for your courses. If you don’t plan on doing much more than just using basic programs like Word or Excel and surfing the web, a simple laptop with basic capabilities will do the job.
If you know that your field of study is much more design intensive, consider something with a high-end processor that can handle video editing, graphic design, etc. You can even check with your school to see if there is a recommended laptop for your particular area of study.
Consider your budget
When buying a laptop, it’s incredibly tempting to overspend on something eye-catching that doesn’t exactly fit your needs.
Once you have an idea of your usage scenario, you should set a realistic budget and try to stick to it; in the end, you will be much more satisfied with your purchase.
ISV certifications generally add to the cost, too, so in the end, expect to spend a lot more than a general-purpose laptop. There are laptops with different specifications and features priced at Rs. 30,000 onwards. It is important to decide on a rough figure on how much you will spend. This will help decide one among the categories and types of laptops.
If you plan to use the laptop for standard products, you can have a baseline computer with no premium accessories in the $ 500 to $ 1,000 range. For some added features —touchscreen with excellent color rendering, SSD, long-lasting battery life, and slim, lightweight chassis — you’re likely looking at the $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 range.
Screen size is also an important consideration, not only for obvious reasons but also because it dictates the overall size and weight of the laptop. Anything larger than 15.6 inches does not fit easily (or does not fit at all) in a backpack.
But if it’s smaller than, say, 13.3 inches, it might be too small for your comfort. Regardless of the size you land on, be sure to consider the weight of the machine. Anything that weighs more than 4 to 5 pounds can be uncomfortable to take it around campus all day.
Before looking at the specs or pricing, you need to find out how portable you need your laptop to be. Laptops are generally classified by their screen sizes:
- 11 to 12 inches – The thinnest and lightest systems out there have 11 to 12-inch displays and generally weigh 2.5 to 3.5 pounds.
- 13 to 14 inches – Provides the best balance of portability and usability, especially if you get a laptop that weighs less than 4 pounds.
- 15 to 16 inches – The most popular size, 15-inch laptops generally weigh from 4 to 5.5 pounds. Consider this size if you want a bigger screen and don’t plan on carrying your laptop frequently. Laptops with 16-inch screens are rare, but Apple could start the trend with its 16-inch MacBook Pro.
- 17 to 18 inches – If your laptop stays at your desk all day every day, a 17 or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or achieve productivity at the level of the workstation.
Select processor and Ram
Laptops are powered by Intel and AMD processors. Choosing the right one is a little difficult. If you’re going to be using your laptop primarily for college homework, core game titles, and software, an Intel Core i3 or AMD A-series A6 or AMD A8 processor will suffice.
For students running heavy programming or graphics-intensive programs, it may be worth spending more on laptops with Intel Core i5, Intel Core i7, or AMD A10 processors.
Most of today’s laptops come with 4GB of RAM, which is great if you want to do everyday tasks like using Microsoft Office, surfing the web, and watching movies. If you’re ready to spend a little more, you can find options with 8GB of RAM. More RAM means multitasking between heavy software becomes simpler.
It’s hard to beat any of Intel’s Core-based CPUs when buying a new laptop. Think of Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7. An Intel Core processor offers the best performance when it comes to multitasking and multimedia tasks. Core i3-based notebooks are generally found on entry-level systems, while Core i5 makes up the majority of conventional computers.
Core i7 based systems are for those of you who want the best performance from their laptop. Note, however, that with a Core i7-based system, the heat that enters the laptop’s base can be a concern, especially if you plan to use the laptop on your lap most of the time.
Find out how much storage you need
As a college student, you will have plenty to store. There are documents, presentations, photos, movies, music, and much more. Most of today’s laptops come with hard drives with capacities ranging from 500GB to 2TB and more.
A 500GB hard drive is enough for all the software you will need to install, but if you are going to install games and store movies, you will need something else.
If you have a limited budget and settle for a 500GB drive, don’t worry. You can buy an external hard drive at a later time with higher storage capacities.
Even more important than the speed of your CPU is the performance of your storage unit. Hard drives used to be in vogue, but today they are most disadvantaged, especially for thin and light laptops.
This is because they can be slow, somewhat bulky, and produce noticeable heat and noise. A solid-state drive (SSD), on the other hand, offers much more speed than a hard drive, runs quietly, and can be installed in a form factor that doesn’t add too much to the weight and volume of a laptop.
As a result of these clear benefits, most OEMs have adopted SSD storage as the standard for notebook computers. Stick to an SSD for your new laptop and you’ll love the speed with which you can load programs, access your data, and also how fast your system can boot.
Once upon a time, the rule for buying a computer, any computer, was “buy the largest hard drive you can afford.” These days, it’s generally preferable to choose speed oversize.
That means giving up the traditional 1TB hard drive in favor of a lower-capacity solid-state drive (SSD), which will make even a low-end laptop run faster and at the same time help extend life. useful battery.
But can you really survive on, say, 256 GB of storage or even 128 GB? That’s what you’ll probably find in many of the more affordable laptop models. (A Chromebook could have even less.)
But remember, we are living in a cloud-powered world: Most students stream their music and movies from services like Spotify and Netflix and therefore don’t need a ton of local media storage.
Documents (such as school documents) consume very little space and are likely to be hosted on Google Drive or Office Online anyway.
Choose the graphics card
There are two types of graphics solutions found in laptops: integrated and discrete. Integrated ones tend to be slower, while discrete ones are more performance-oriented.
If you are going to use your laptop to play basic games or just to browse, watch movies, a laptop with an integrated graphics card is perfectly fine. Discrete graphics card solutions in laptops generally work with AMD or NVIDIA. AMD calls its Radeon cards, while NVIDIA calls its GeForce solutions.
These GPUs (graphics processing units) come with dedicated graphics memory that enables them to handle graphics-intensive games and software. If you are studying a course in 3D or computer graphics, a discrete graphics card is essential.
Of course, the other benefit is being able to play high-end games on your laptop. NVIDIA’s entry-level graphics solutions are labeled GeForce 930M, 940M, while the mid-range offering starts with the GTX 950M and higher. AMD’s low-end graphics solutions start from the Radeon R5 to the R9 series of GPUs.
The battery in a laptop is as important as the processor and RAM. Having to worry about plugging your laptop in and out of conferences isn’t exactly fun. College days are long, you have a lot of notes to take and the last thing you want to do is end up with a useless laptop.
A popular solution used to be a laptop with a hot-swappable battery system , you could keep a couple of batteries charged and turn them off without having to turn off your device , but as laptops with removable batteries become rarer. The best is to get a laptop with a battery that lasts eight hours or more.
As a college student, you may need to bring your laptop to college and back. You may not always have a chance to charge it in college. A good capacity battery can last for hours and hours.
To determine the expected battery life of a laptop, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. You can usually find this information at the retailer or on the manufacturer’s website.
If you are buying a large, bulky laptop or gaming platform that will be used only on a desk near an electrical outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if you’re at home or at work, you’ll want at least 7 hours of endurance, with more than 8 hours ideal.
Battery life quoted by the manufacturer is hardly ever indicative of what the real-world experience of using a laptop looks like.
There are simply too many variables that affect battery life which comprises the screen resolution, the screen brightness, the number of applications you have running in the background, plus whether you are actively connected to Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth devices.
The operating system that a laptop runs on can also play an important role in determining battery life. It is for this reason that ultra-books and convertibles running on Chrome OS tend to offer longer battery life than those running on Windows 10.
If you run programs that need a lot of processing, stream a lot of videos online, play graphics-intensive games, or transfer a lot of files over a wireless network, then your battery will run out long before the provider has quoted.
A good practice here is to look at the battery rating in watt-hours (Watt) or milliamp-hours (mAh). The larger these figures are, the longer the battery will last. For a 13.3-inch Ultrabook, for example, a battery rated 44 watt to 50 watts will give you the best results.
It doesn’t matter how big your laptop is if you run out of power when you need it most. That is why battery life is a primary consideration for student laptops.
While battery life improves as technology advances, not all laptops can run all day on a single charge. The more powerful your machine, the larger the screen, the larger the hard drive, and the more ports it has, the higher the consumption of its batteries.
Using a laptop for high-performance activities like online gaming or engineering applications will further reduce battery life. As with the weight of a laptop, the goal here is to maximize battery life and take into account what your student needs most from their computer.
There are plenty of laptops that can offer this level of electrical independence and still provide the kind of computing power students need,
Choose the one that is portable
After choosing the hardware specs for your laptop, there are other elements you can’t ignore, like the design, size, weight, and screen size. If you’re going to take your laptop to college every day and back, look for a lightweight laptop.
If you’re staying in a hostel, and it’s a full-time machine you’re using, a larger screen size may be recommended. It is also useful for watching movies, playing with your friends, reading notes, and creating presentations.
There can be a substantial difference in the weight of laptops, from less than two pounds to more than 17 pounds. When choosing a laptop for your student, the goal should be to find the lightest machine that meets your needs.
That may sound simple enough, but things get a little trickier when you start to factor in things like battery life, screen size, form factor, and performance.
Must have laptop accessories
There are some accessories designed to protect your laptop, while others are designed to increase productivity. A laptop bag is the first thing to consider.
These bags are designed with compartments that allow you to safely carry your laptop and accessories. Please note that some manufacturers include a free laptop bag with a laptop so you don’t always need to buy one.
Windows comes with a built-in antivirus to protect your laptop from threats and malware viruses. Some manufacturers also offer pre-installed software.
Most of these are subscription-based packages where you pay a flat fee every year or so. For additional security, you may want to consider third-party antivirus and Internet security software for your new laptop.
The more pixels you have, the more content can fit on the screen, and the sharper it will look. Sadly, some budget laptops still have 1366 x 768 displays and some business laptops as well, but if you can afford it, then paying more for a panel that runs at 1920 x 1080, also known as Full HD or 1080p can be a good idea.
Higher-end laptops have 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800, or even 3840 x 2160 (4K) displays, which look good but consume more power, reducing battery life.
The quality of the screen is much more than the resolution. IPS panels vary in color and brightness, so read the reviews to find out if the laptop you’re considering has a good display.
Typically, we look for an RGB color rating of over 100% and a higher brightness than 300 nits results. If you want the best image quality and don’t care about battery life, consider an OLED display. You should also be on the lookout for the next display technology to get to laptops, including mini LEDs.
Consider the durability of the laptop
A laptop in college is going to come in handy as you move between classes during the day and work at night. Most Ultrabooks are designed to withstand a decent amount of abuse especially, especially when you move away from ultra-budget options, but you can go a step further to protect yourself against failure before getting your money’s worth from the laptop.
Many business-class laptops are designed to withstand the additional abuse that comes with travel and heavy use. For example, Lenovo’s ThinkPad and HP‘s Elite Book lineups undergo MIL-STD 810G certification, which tests resistance to drops, bumps, dust, vibrations, temperature, altitude, and humidity, ensuring your laptop can withstand scenarios outside of the regular use.
Your student’s laptop will have to survive some pretty tough conditions. Unlike laptops that are primarily used for business, your child’s machine will accompany them everywhere and will be used for just about everything. Classroom? Of course. Bedroom? Insurance.
But also, all the intermediate places, from the university lawn to the local Starbucks, to the narrow seats of a campus bus, and probably some places we haven’t even thought about. They’ll need a laptop that’s designed to hold up a bit more than casual typing, which is why laptop durability is such an important consideration.
Look beyond the specs and feature lists and consider how it’s built when you are shopping for a student laptop. If durability is a key issue for you, you’ll be interested to know that our line of ThinkPad laptops goes through military-grade tests and can more than resist the worst that college can throw at your student.
Here are some general guidelines which you should keep in mind:
Bigger is bigger. It goes without saying that the bigger the laptop screen is, the heavier the laptop is. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in general, if you take two equivalent power laptops with equivalent features, the one with the bigger screen will weigh more.
Sometimes the compensation is worth it, especially if your student expects their laptop to replace all the features of a desktop computer.
The more powerful a machine, say a laptop designed for gaming, the greater your demand for electricity, and therefore the greater your battery. Therefore, a 15-inch gaming laptop will weigh more than a 15-inch model designed for more informal computing.
Larger storage also means more weight. Rotating disk hard drives can store much more data than SSDs and also cost much less, but these hard drives also weigh more.
If you really want to shed a few pounds, you will have to compromise internal storage. You can always supplement with an external USB drive to add more storage, so you’ll never get completely stuck if you need more space.
Since you’ll probably end up staring at your laptop screen for hours at a time, you probably want to make sure you get a screen that’s comfortable to see and use. To get started, you’ll need to consider whether you want your next laptop to have a touchscreen.
These days, touchscreens are very common and can make some tasks easier than others. Unfortunately, they can also add a brightness to the screen that is sometimes undesirable.
Bright displays generate reflections, which are definitely negative if you’re playing games, watching content, or editing images and video content. For these reasons, you may want to consider a laptop that doesn’t have a touchscreen.
Next, be sure to check the resolution on any laptop you’re considering buying. A resolution of 1920×1080 pixels (Full HD) should be considered if you want a lot of space to align windows and keep things in view. Some modern laptops now also offer 4K resolutions.
However, these high-end display panels are generally an expensive addition to an already expensive product. They will really pay off for those who really need them, like content creation professionals.
Lastly, viewing angles are extremely important. A laptop screen featuring IPS (in-plane switching) technology offers the widest viewing angles and best user comfort.
Chances are, you won’t always be using your laptop, so a laptop with an IPS screen is generally preferred over the contrary. If possible, take the time to go to a store and see the screen for yourself. If not, trust multiple reviews to get a good overview of the product and whether or not your display will meet your needs.
Due to the restrictions placed on them by the physical size of the laptop, laptop keyboards tend to be more varied than desktop models. For starters, there is room for a numeric keypad only on larger laptops, and then only on certain models.
For long typing sessions, you will need a laptop that has a comfortable keyboard. Also, many laptops have small arrow keys or backslashes that are to the right rather than the left of the keyboard.
Only some laptops have the Start, End, Page Down, and Page Down keys as well; If there is no physical key for such functions, you must use a function key combination (Fn). If you trust these keys to navigate a text document, look for a laptop where all these functions are replicated by separate physical keys.
You want a keyboard that has a comfortable layout with full-size keys and some space around the arrow keys. The keys must have adequate downstroke travel and agile responsiveness when released.
Make sure the keyboard is also backlit, so you can type with an easier view of the keys in low-light environments. As with the display, it is useful to try this before you buy, especially if your main task is to write.
Laptop keyboards can also vary greatly in quality. Some are unpleasant to type thanks to the horrible flexibility in the middle of the keyboard tray when you type.
If you can’t test the keyboard yourself in a store, we recommend that you at least read some reviews to see if there are any major issues. After all, you will have to live with a sub-standard keyboard as long as you have the laptop.
A laptop has limited space around its base, so it has far fewer ports than a desktop PC. For starters, some laptops have just two USB ports.
If you have a printer and mouse plugged in and want to take some pictures from your camera, you’ll need to unplug something, unless your laptop has a built-in SD card reader, as many do. Many current laptops also have at least one USB 3 port for faster data transfers.
USB 3.1 ports begin to appear on the latest high-end laptops. These ports are typically the smallest Type-C variety, but they open up a world of possibilities when it comes to transferring speeds and peripherals.
A single USB 3.1 port can host a load of high-performance, high-performance peripherals such as external hard drives and displays via an external dock, which can be expensive but extremely practical.
Although all laptops have built-in wireless networks (if you have a fancy 802.11ac router, check to make sure your laptop’s wireless chip is AC compliant, so you get the best transfer speeds), not all have an Ethernet plug.
We found this to be a problem primarily when traveling, as some hotels offer poor wireless connections but a fast Ethernet network connection in each room. USB to Ethernet adapters are available for as little cheaper laptops, but be aware this will use one of their precious USB ports.
If you’ve put off deciding to buy a new laptop for as being the student because you’re not sure if you’ll need a tablet, too, it’s time to take a look at 2-in-1 laptops.
These machines are relatively new to the computer market. laptops, but they are rapidly gaining popularity, thanks to their unique ability to combine the best features of a traditional laptop and tablet in one device.
When you sit on a surface with its screen angled away from you, a 2-in-1 looks and works just like a regular laptop. Flip the screen completely through its 360-degree hinge, and it transforms into a touchscreen tablet that you can navigate with a finger or stylus.
2-in-1 laptops are ideal for students who prefer to take notes with handwriting or who need to draw designs.
If your student is enrolled in an arts program, the benefits of a 2-in-1 are obvious, but an increasing number of applied science programs, such as architecture and mechanical engineering, can also take advantage of the features of a 2-in-1 tablet.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect laptop:
- Try them out in person! Online reviews can give you an idea of how each laptop is rated, but it’s still worth having a laptop to see if it’s okay with its keyboard and overall size.
- Take advantage of your school’s IT department resources. That generally includes discounted software, including Microsoft Office and Adobe products. And in many cases, it can also help with any computer problem.
- Make sure that your smartphone plan includes tethering. This is usually a default option with most subscriptions, but not always the case with prepaid devices. Being able to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi access point will make it easier to get the job done anywhere.
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